Kilbeggan stage their first meeting of 2012 on Friday evening and this ever popular Co. Westmeath venue will undoubtedly again draw a large attendance.
Their season gets underway when ten go the post for the Kilbeggan Maiden Hurdle at 5.20. Long odds-on backers got their figures badly burned last March, when Cause Of Causes could only finish second to Brecan Boy after starting a 2/9 favourite. He was slightly unlucky on that occasion as he was hampered after the last and he should be capable of making amends here. Certainly a rating of 118 should be enough to win a Kilbeggan maiden. White Feathers was just a neck behind him then and she has since finished second to Authinger at Tramore. She may again give the Gordon Elliott trained Cause Of Causes most to do.
Elliott also has a decent chance in the next, the Follow Kilbeggan On Facebook Maiden Hurdle at 5.55. Here he saddles Spring Lane who ran out an impressive 16 length winner of a bumper at Downpatrick last March, when he defeated Sceptre And Clown. However he lacks hurdling experience which is vital around this sharp track and as a result Sin Palo is preferred for champion trainer Willie Mullins. He has not run since pulling up in a maiden hurdle won by Archie Meade at Thurles last December, but his second to Cairdin in a similar event at Punchestown prior to that reads well in this company. The Charles Byrnes trained E Mac who was second to Pageboy at Tipperary last month is also worthy of considerable respect.
Cloughmile has to carry top-weight in the Moate Handicap Hurdle at 6.25 but she may be up to the task. On her last start over hurdles when she a blinder to finish fourth to the Dedigout at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. The winner of course went on to win the Grade 1 Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last week, while the second Novarov was second in a very competitive handicap at the same venue. There does not appear to be much strength in depth to this contest, with What An Flyer a winner of a maiden hurdle at Cork last month and Benefitthewest who won a handicap here last July rated her main rivals.
Turnonthegas was part of a sparkling four timer for Paul Carberry at Ballinrobe on Tuesday and he quickly turns out again in the Greville Arms Hotel Handicap Hurdle at 6.55 under a 4lbs penalty. At the western venue he easily accounted for Moving On by over seven lengths and he should have no problem with this extra half mile in trip. I Never Knew That who won the second division of that handicap hurdle at Ballinrobe also reappears here. She should again run well but her time on Tuesday was over five seconds slower than that of Turnonthegas.
14 runners’ line-up for the Irish Stallions Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase at 7.25. Banjaxed Girl has run well on the number of occasions at Fairyhouse this season, including when second behind Rathlin and again behind Askanna in the Grade 3 John Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase last month. She was by far the best of these over hurdles, but it is debatable if a track like this will play to her strengths. Annie Other won two hurdles around here last season and made an encouraging chasing debut when second to Character Jack at Tramore last month. At the prices she may represent a little bit of value, while Definite Class is another sure to run well.
The Sean Hughes Memorial Handicap Chase at 7.55 will not take a lot of winning and it may provide champion jockey Davy Russell with his first success of the new campaign with Resolute Bay. A winner three times over hurdles last year, he gained his last success when scoring at Sligo last August off a mark of 113. He makes his handicap chase debut this evening and the handicapper may have given him a chance off just 109. In addition he has course form, as he was just touched off by Archie Boy in a handicap hurdle here last June. Recent winners Doctor Woodfield and Good Luck Chuck are other possibilities in this.
On so many occasions Nina Carberry has sent punters home happy and it may be a similar story after the Loughnagore INH Flat Race which concludes affairs at 8.25. Here she rides Wall Street Wally for her boss Noel Meade and last time out this gelded son of Lord Americo was second to Alexandr Nevsky in a bumper at Fairyhouse last September. Coming from these quarters he can be relied to be fully fit for his first outing since. The market should be checked regarding how much confidence there is behind the chances of Zuzka, a unraced mare by Flemensfirth. She represents Willie and Patrick Mullins and if the market speaks in her favour then it could be worth taking notice. However without that aid the vote goes to Wall Street Wally.